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Separating from the ego

The Sensible Flutist: Separating from the ego

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Separating from the ego

Ever since Marion Harrington rehashed a recent experience she had with performance anxiety, I’ve been thinking a lot about the ego and its effect in my professional life. I’m finally comprehending that it’s not so much about me eking out a living teaching and performing but about the people I collaborate with. I'm more aware than ever that I can't go it alone.

Twitter has opened a new world for me (ask me why I love twitter!). Without twitter, I wouldn’t have found the support network that I now lean on and has helped me realize what I'm now writing about. People that I met via random twitter conversations have become colleagues whose opinion I respect and who I hope to play music with someday. Honestly, I don’t know that I would be on my current, completely unexpected path of returning to school not for another music degree but one in physical therapy if it hadn’t been for these connections.

I can’t believe that I will get to perform with some of those colleagues this year. In addition to Marion’s Classical Music Connects project, I will be giving two performances in Philadelphia/New Jersey and Southwest Virginia (locations, dates and times TBD). In Virginia, I’ll be collaborating with another CMC musician, Erica Sipes, who wholeheartedly jumped on board when I e-mailed her my outreach idea.

These opportunities wouldn’t be coming about if I were still concerned about my ego. I would have let self-doubt stop me from taking action on anything for fear it wouldn't come to fruition. I'm a procrastinator for multiple reasons, but I procrastinate because of my ego. We spend so much time worrying about what others think of us and how we stand in the competitive pool of talent that we forget what it’s like to be part of a collective that isn’t trying to tear us down (real or imagined).

I would be lying if I said that this realization has made life any easier.

I’m fighting my ego as I begin preparing the program for these upcoming performances. Every time I begin getting too big for my britches or I’m paralyzed by self-doubt, I remind myself that I am part of a collective force. I have a “tribe” that gets me, gets my ideas and is on the same page. They want to change the classical music world just like me.

In the blog I write for my local newspaper, I am constantly returning to community, collaboration and connection as focal points. Those are so important for our local communities and I’m so happy to put these into practice with colleagues scattered all over the globe. With my ego in check, I’m opening myself up to new experiences and expanding my definition of community daily.

Earlier this week, author Patti Digh posted a eloquent Mindful Monday post about letting go and as I work to make my ego secondary to my work. I’ll leave you with her words:

“Clear ground.
Let it go.
Feel your heart and spirit soar.”

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At January 12, 2012 at 4:58 PM , Blogger CrazyComposer (aka Peter Amsel) said...

Well, I won't ask you why you love Twitter - I have some suspicions - but I would like to say that it's an honour to be a part of this process with you, if albeit a small part. It's funny - our "intersection" through Twitter has opened many new doors for me as well, as well as working on issues regarding confidence, self-doubt, and other "things" that rattle around in the brain, weighing me down. This year I'm working on three pieces for a 2013 concert in Chicago - something that wouldn't have been possible without Twitter - so, I couldn't agree with you more! "Feel your heart and spirit soar" indeed!


At January 12, 2012 at 5:49 PM , Blogger Erica Ann Sipes said...

Oh Alexis, hooray for all of this! Struggling with ego can be a constant battle but one that is so worth fighting. At the end of each round I find that I have been through a crucial process of thinking that brings me new understanding of myself, life, society, and those around me. And I don't know if I'm ever right about anything at the end of it all, and I don't think it even matters. The fact that you're thinking, re-thinking, creating, and re-creating is in my mind, what counts. It keeps us alive and ready to go in different directions.

I think you already know this but I am so excited to work with you this year and with the others in CMC. So keep fighting your ego and let's make some fabulous music :-)

With all my respect,

At January 12, 2012 at 5:58 PM , Blogger Chip Michael said...

Connecting with you on Twitter has been a highlight for me too! Like your post, your tweets provide insight into performance and self which is truly amazing! I look forward to hearing you play one of my pieces someday, perhaps something written specifically for you. Until then, I very much treasure our connection!

At January 12, 2012 at 7:31 PM , Anonymous Bill Plake said...

What a beautiful sentiment, and a reassuring reminder that we are never alone in our artistic (and other) pursuits. To know that so many people support, appreciate and help us along our way is a source of liberation. I, too, feel blessed and connected by the people (such as you!) I've meet via Twitter that have been so selflessly willing to help. Thanks for an inspiring post.

At January 12, 2012 at 7:55 PM , Blogger The Sensible Flutist said...

Thank you all for your comments. This is the support I'm talking about - you make it so much easier to get in the practice room to prepare my part of a wonderfully collaborative 2012!


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